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COLLEGE BASKETBALL / 2000-2001 PREVIEW | UCLA WOMEN

Challenge for Bruins Is to Move Beyond Past

November 16, 2000|EARL GUSTKEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Is there life after Maylana Martin, Janae Hubbard, Erica Gomez, Marie Philman, Takiyah Jackson and Carly Funicello?

UCLA women's basketball Coach Kathy Olivier thinks so, but she won't know for sure until late December.

This was to have been a reloading year for UCLA, after the departure of six seniors. That group, even though it experienced a disappointing 1999-2000 Pacific 10 Conference season--fourth place--reached the final eight of the NCAA tournament in its junior season, was 64-28 over the last three seasons and made the NCAA tournament three times.

But in recent weeks, the Bruin women have gone from reloading to unhitching the lifeboats.

Two premier returning guards, 5-11 Nicole Kaczmarski and 5-7 LaCresha Flannigan, won't be eligible until UCLA's second quarter begins, in late December.

Kaczmarski, an All-Pac-10 freshman team pick last year when she averaged 11.7 points, is staying at her mother's Middle Island, N.Y., home for the first academic quarter while undergoing treatment for a foot injury and Lyme disease.

Flannigan, maybe the fastest guard in the Pac-10, encountered academic turbulence last spring.

Kaczmarski was found to have swelling of a tendon on the bottom of her left foot.

"I first hurt it last spring at UCLA and I took some cortisone shots, but it never really went away," she said by phone.

"Then at the U.S. Jones Cup team trials at Colorado Springs in May, I hurt it again on the first drill of the first day, and this time it was really bad. It just takes a long time to heal. I'm really happy with my therapist here and my family and Kathy decided it would be best if I stayed here and rehabbed the foot."

Lyme disease is an infection spread by ticks. It can cause flu-like symptoms as well as skin changes and joint inflammation. It's generally treated with antibiotics.

The absence of Kaczmarski and Flannigan means a heavier load for another returning guard, 5-9 junior Michelle Greco.

Greco started only six games last year but finished fourth in scoring--she averaged 9.2 points a game--and led UCLA in steals.

Sophomore Jalina Bradley missed 12 games last season with a foot injury, but figures to get major early playing time. The same goes for sophomore Natalie Nakase.

The only returning inside player is sophomore Natalie Jarrett, who played in eight games last season.

Olivier brought in three junior college transfers to make up for the loss of Martin, Hubbard and Funicello. They include Shalada Allen and Stacy Robertson of Kilgore Junior College in Kilgore, Texas, and 6-2 Malika Leatham from Blinn Junior College in Brenham, Texas.

Three other newcomers are freshmen Whitney Jones, Gennifer Arranaga, and Jamila Veasley. Sophomore Kristee Porter joins the team after volleyball season. She redshirted last basketball season but played in four games as a freshman.

Greco sees a transition from past low post-oriented teams.

"The last two years have been centered around our post players, but this year with a lot of smaller players, we'll be more perimeter-oriented," she said.

"We have to reload," Olivier said.

"We lost a lot of seniors, including two four-year starters [Martin and Gomez]. But I like our team. We have some good, young players who now have to step up into leadership roles. We're smaller this year, but we're quicker than last year's team."

UCLA had a grim opening weekend, losing to Duke (80-52) and New Mexico (75-54) at an Albuquerque tournament. And the backcourt took another hit. Greco, after scoring 28 and getting three steals against New Mexico, sprained her right ankle.

The Bruins' home opener is Friday against Utah.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

UCLA Women / Bruins at a Glance

Date: Opponent, Time

Nov. 10: Duke 80, UCLA 52

Nov. 11: New Mexico 75, UCLA 54

Friday: UTAH, 7

Nov. 25: at Brigham Young, 2

Nov. 28: SAN DIEGO, 7

Dec. 2: at Colorado, 1

Dec. 10: LONG BEACH STATE, 2

Dec. 18: at Old Dominion, 7:30

Dec. 21: at Ohio State, 4

Dec. 28: PEPPERDINE, 7

Dec. 30: GEORGIA, 4

Jan. 4: *at Washington, 7

Jan. 6: *at Washington State, 7

Jan. 14: *USC, 1

Jan. 18: *ARIZONA STATE, 7

Jan. 20: *ARIZONA, 4

Jan. 25: *at Oregon State, 7

Jan. 27: *at Oregon, 1

Feb. 2: *STANFORD, 7

Feb. 4: *CALIFORNIA, 3

Feb. 10: *at USC, 2

Feb. 15: *at Arizona, 6

Feb. 17: *at Arizona State, 6

Feb. 23: *OREGON, 7

Feb. 25: *OREGON STATE, 2

March 1: *at California, 7:30

March 3: *at Stanford, 7:30

March 8: *WASHINGTON STATE, 7

March 10: *WASHINGTON, 1

Home games in CAPS; all times Pacific; *--Conference game

ROSTER

*--*

No. Player P Ht Yr 1 Natalie Nakase G 5-2 So.

*--*

Major minutes until Kaczmarski returns.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Yr 4 Kristee Porter F 6-0 So.

*--*

She'll make the switch from volleyball.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Yr 10 Whitney Jones F 5-10 Fr.

*--*

She'll make switch from soccer.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Yr 13 Gennifer Arranaga G 5-6 Fr.

*--*

Track sprinter brings speed to backcourt.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Yr 14 Natalie Jarrett F 6-0 So.

*--*

Scored, rebounded well in exhibition.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Yr 20 Michelle Greco G 5-9 Jr.

*--*

Should become a major scorer this year.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Yr 21 Jalina Bradley G 5-7 So.

*--*

One of Bruins' better defenders.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Yr 23 Nicole Kaczmarski G 5-11 So.

*--*

Out until December because of foot injury.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Yr 32 Malika Leatham C 6-2 Jr.

*--*

JC transfer had nine boards in exhibition.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Yr 33 Shalada Allen C 6-2 Jr.

*--*

JC transfer, a solid scorer/rebounder.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Yr 35 Jamila Veasley F 6-1 Fr.

*--*

A CIF player of the year from Cerritos.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Yr 42 Stacy Robertson F 6-0 Jr.

*--*

Figures as strong perimeter player.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Yr 45 LaCresha Flannigan G 5-7 Sr.

*--*

Academically ineligible until second quarter.

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